Get outdoors for Earth Day by learning to identify cactus on a Saturday hike… (Los Angeles Times )
Earth Day, marked each year on April 22, has mushroomed into a longer outdoorsy celebration with the advent of National Park Week, John Muir's birthday and National Junior Ranger Day. Whatever you're celebrating, here are some of the best places in Southern California and points north for getting in tune with nature.
Santa Monica Mountains: Bring the kids to one (or both) of these Adventure in Nature: Let's G.O. play dates on Saturday. Learn about the mountains in your backyard through two hours of stories, music, art and exploration at 11 a.m. at Temescal Gateway Park (15601 W. Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades) and 4 p.m. King Gillette Ranch (26800 Mulholland Highway, Calabasas). $7 parking fee; children must be accompanied by adults.
Joshua Tree National Park: It's not Coachella, but it's free -- as is entrance to the park this week. Artist-in-residence Adam Tinkle leads 20 musicians (brass, woodwinds, percussion, vocals) in an Earth Day outdoor concert at the Indian Cove Campground amphitheater at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The park is 140 miles east of L.A.; find Indian Cove on the northern side of the park, 13 miles east of Joshua Tree Village on California 62.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: Do you know your cactus? Take a two-hour hike with a naturalist to discover the differences between beavertails and cholla and other cactus and succulents. Meet 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Tamarisk Grove (from the east, take California Route 78 to S3). Stick around for a 7:30 p.m. ranger-led campfire talk about "Mysteries of Anza-Borrego" at the Borrego Palm Canyon Campfire Center near the visitor center via Route S22. The park is two hours east of L.A. in San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties.
Yosemite National Park: There are tons of Earth Day/National Park Week activities this weekend at California's premier national park so check out the calendar on the website. Earth Day cake and lemonade from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Indian Cultural Museum and a Fine Print Tour from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday of Ansel Adams original photographs at the Ansel Adams Gallery. These events take place in Yosemite Village, accessed via the park's western entrance.